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Can J Public Health. 2004 Sep-Oct;95(5):357-60.

Adolescent suicide in Quebec and prior utilization of medical services.

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Department of Health Administration, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC.



Psychopathology is the main risk factor for adolescent suicide but several studies have shown that only a small proportion of suicide victims receive mental health care during the months preceding their suicide. The goal of this study is to describe the utilization of medical services by Quebec adolescent suicide victims during the year preceding their suicide.


All suicides of persons aged 19 or less that occurred during a five-year period were retrieved from the Quebec Coroner's database. Corresponding medical services utilization data were retrieved from the Quebec physician payment database (RAMQ) and the Quebec hospitalization database (MED-ECHO). Data were analyzed in terms of types and intensity of medical services (physical or psychiatric), types of providers (general practitioners, psychiatrists, and other medical specialists), and timing of interventions relative to the date of suicide.


78% of all Quebec adolescent suicide victims utilized medical services during the year before their suicide. However, only 12% of all victims received medical attention for psychiatric problems, and only 9.9% met with a psychiatrist during that same period of time. General practitioners and non-psychiatric medical specialists provided medical attention for psychiatric problems to only 5.6% and 0.7% of those future suicide victims with whom they met in outpatient settings, and the intensity of their interventions was low.


These results suggest that the level of recognition and treatment of psychopathology in Quebec adolescents who later commit suicide is low, despite the fact that a large proportion of them meet with physicians during the year preceding their suicide. This suggests that information and training programs pertaining to adolescent suicide and psychopathology should be implemented for GPs and non-psychiatric medical specialists as well.

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